Unexplained Findings in Colorado

. Sunday, November 29


This is the sleepy little town of San Luis, Colorado, just north of the New Mexico border in Costilla County. According to the Associated Press, this little town is the site of recent calf mutilations that have everyone in the area perplexed, including the Sheriff.

Rancher Manuel Sanchez said that he found four of his calves with skin peeled back and the organs removed from the rib cage. There were no signs of animals or humans; no footprints, ATV tracks, drag marks – or blood. There was no blood at the scene at all.

A UFO chaser, Chuck Zukowski is on the scene investigating too. He told the press that three more calves were mutilated back in March in the same area. He’s looking for a pattern in these unexplained mutilations.

But Sanchez decided to sell off the rest of his calves in hopes that the rest of his herd isn’t as interesting to the invaders. For a small rancher, it’s a big loss.

Diabetes: Preventable Yet Far More Prevalent

. Saturday, November 28


Here is a stark example of how the numbers paint a crystal clear picture.

In 1991, a study predicted that cases of diabetes in the US would double from 6.5 million in 1987 to 11.6 million by 2030. Today, there are 23.7 million cases of diabetes.

There are 77 million aging baby boomers, with those 55-64 less healthy, less happy, and half have high blood pressure. Amputations, blindness and kidney disease are the end result of the body’s inability to metabolize glucose. Obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise seriously increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and 95 percent of these cases are preventable.

"If we don't change our diet and exercise habits or find new, more effective and less expensive ways to prevent and treat diabetes, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population," said Dr. Elbert Huang, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

The future holds pain and suffering for America’s population.

Waste Not, Want Not: Food

. Friday, November 27


We’ve all seen the ads on TV of the horribly ravaged, starving children in poor, undeveloped countries. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide don’t have enough to eat. Food shortages are real, critical and yet to be resolved in any sort of enduring, permanent way.

Contrast that reality with recent findings that show that 40 percent of all food produced in the US is thrown out. The number of homes in the US that have had their eating habits altered due to lack of money has gone from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million in 2008. 30 percent of all food is wasted.

Our current food production system is incredibly inefficient. An enormous percentage of food is lost during every step of the way from food production through consumption. It is lost during harvesting, processing, transport, distribution, and sale to consumers. A UN Report details that over 50% of the food produced world-wide is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain. (Food Waste: From Field to Kitchen)

On average, a pound of food per day per person ends up in landfills producing methane, adding to global warming as a major greenhouse gas. During the production process itself, less than half of what farmers produce actually makes it onto someone’s table.

It’s time to bring these numbers down, wouldn’t you say? What can you do?

  1. Don’t worry so much about a tiny blemish on fruits and vegetables.
  2. Buy only what you know you and your family will eat.
  3. Prepare and serve meals based on what you know will be eaten.
  4. Save the leftovers to reheat another day instead of throwing them out.
  5. Get a doggy bag to go for what you don’t eat at a restaurant.
  6. Reduce portion sizes.

These are only a few suggestions. Do you have more ways to reduce our wastefulness?

Oh, yes. What you do does make a difference.

Laptop 3 Year Failure Rate by Brand

. Monday, November 23


A heavy sigh of relief. My laptop is a Toshiba.

As the study was compiled, 20 percent of the laptop failures are hardware malfunctions, and 10 percent are due to drops, spills and other accidental damage.

Right up there with cell phones, the typical laptop is used and abused more than any other electronic device.

Want to keep your laptop running for more than a few years?  Use a padded case, route cords so that they won’t be tripped on, keep children away from it, and protect the laptop from heat and dust.

Galbraith: Recovery Reports Premature

. Saturday, November 21


Meet James Galbraith, a Professor of Government in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Listed among his notable positions on his faculty Web page is Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee, and the list of articles quoting him is a mile long. Perhaps those of you who have kept a close eye on news about the economy know of him as the “different” voice in the crowd of economic analysts, and that is what he seems to present.

Today’s article is a case in point: “A Truly Extraordinary Slump” Reports of Robust Recovery Premature, James Galbraith Says.” He says it’s going to take a very long time for the country to recover.

Galbraith points his finger at banks who, because of the housing bust, are unwilling to lend. Because of this credit contraction, the economy won’t be able to recover as it had done in the past. Right now, the only ones benefitting from the current stabilization are those on Wall Street.

Galbraith predicts the unemployment rate will continue to rise into 2010 and decline "very slowly" thereafter. The U.S. economy needs "substantially greater policy intervention."

He calls for greater government intervention to prevent housing foreclosures, create “smart jobs” that not only put people to work but that work toward a sustainable future in the form of renewable energy, and add aid to help Baby Boomers transition into retirement.

Galbraith’s bottom line: We need another stimulus package.

The only analysis of this find for me contains a lot of cussing and cursing, and that’s not lady-like at all. So, I’ll leave it up to you to decide what Galbraith’s voice means in the grand scheme of things.

A penny for your thoughts?

Black Friday “Leaks”

. Wednesday, November 18


Will you brave the crowds on “Black Friday”? If you are heading out, some of the surprise deals are out of the bag, courtesy of Yahoo!Shopping:

Confirmed deals at Wal-Mart:

  • 50-inch Sanyo 720p plasma TV for $598
  • Magnavox Blu-ray player for $78
  • TomTom GPS for $59

If you’re heading to Target, check these out:

  • 32-inch LCD HDTV from Westinghouse for $246
  • Some toys at 50 percent off
  • Toasters and coffeemakers for $3

Going to Best Buy? Here’s what you’ll find there:

  • 50” Samsung plasma TV for &898
  • PlayStation 3 Slim with two games for $300
  • “Huge” discounts on GPS units

Oh, by the way, none of these Black Friday deals are “official”, only “leaked” but confirmed. Whatever.

AT&T and Verizon Duke it Out

. Monday, November 16

GET 92793864GF010_DROID

Verizon’s current ad campaign is doing the trick. AT&T is screaming “no fair” and yelling “uncle” very loudly, and like a woos in the most unflattering sense.

The launch of the Motorola Droid saw Verizon ads depicting AT&T’s lesser 3G coverage compared to Verizon’s.

"Through the use of a coverage map in [Verizon's] ads, they suggest through all white or blank space not only that AT&T doesn't offer 3G coverage but [also that it offers] no coverage at all," an AT&T spokesperson said as he outlined the company’s case against Verizon.

Public surveys suggest the ad campaign is working, with AT&T’s approval rating sinking into the negative numbers and Verizon’s reaching far into the positives.

It’s logical that bloggers are calling the kettle black. Instead of yelling “foul,” AT&T would do better by expanding 3D coverage as they’ve long promised and have yet to do:

“The company could stand to take a lesson from a lifeguard: When you're drowning, the worst thing you can do is kick and scream. It only makes you sink faster.”

Paperless Big Picture

. Sunday, November 15


According to the research done by Barbara Kiviat writing for Time, when we go paperless – opt out of receiving statements and bills via good ol’ snail mail – we give up truly understanding our financial Big Picture.

Why? Well research has shown that people will first scan horizontally starting at the top of the screen, but then are soon scanning down the page to see what else is there. Tracked eye movements show our focus forms the letter “F” while looking at any page on the computer screen. By the time your eye reaches the bottom of the page, you’ve tuned out.

"The reality of what you're spending isn't nearly as strong," says Naomi Baron, a linguistics professor at American University who studies the impact of technology.

The solution? Use personal finance management tools like Quicken, and those offered at mint.com and wesabe.com.

Dalai Lama Angers China - Again

. Tuesday, November 10


On Sunday, the Dalai Lama traveled to Tawang, a remote town near the border of Tibet, to lead five days of prayer and Buddhist teachings.

Tawang is located at the center of a border dispute between India and China. India gave the Dalai Lama permission to travel there, asserting control over the area, while China believes that the Dalai Lama’s purpose in going is to promote Tibetan independence from China and remove China’s right to choose the Dalai Lama’s successor.

While tensions rise between nuclear India and China, the Dalai Lama’s only concern is to preserve Tibetan religion and culture. His message is, as always, to promote religious values, peace and harmony.

Supreme Court Looks at Life for Juveniles

. Monday, November 9


In upstate NY in the early 1980’s, three kids aged 7, 8 and 11 took their father’s shotgun and went to the corner sub shop. They shot and killed the woman working at the time and managed to steal $7.73 from the cash register. Initially, all three were remanded, but the 7 and 8 year old were returned to the home after investigations were complete. The oldest was sentenced to a juvenile facility and released when he turned 18.

Now, the Supreme Court has been asked to declare that juvenile cases in which no murder was involved, with the sentence of life in prison is cruel and unusual and unconstitutional. Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled out the death penalty for anyone under 18.

A sober thought comes with this set of statistics:

The 109 juveniles serving terms of life without parole are in Florida and seven other states — California, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska and South Carolina — according to a Florida State University study. More than 2,000 other juveniles are serving life without parole for killing someone.

Are children an unfinished work in progress? Will softening the punishments doled out for juvenile offenders put others at risk?

I point this out because, once again, a monumental decision is in the works that has slipped through the cracks created over the frenzy of the national healthcare reform bill.

And, once again, a half-assed band-aid is applied to symptoms, not the cause.

Healthcare Reform in a Nutshell

. Sunday, November 8


Compliments of McClatchy Newspapers, here’s 10 ways that healthcare insurance will work if the bill becomes law:

  1. Creates a government-run plan, or "public option," to offer insurance coverage to compete with private sector insurance companies.
  2. Sets up health insurance "exchanges," or marketplaces, where consumers can easily compare coverage and rates.
  3. Requires nearly everyone to obtain health insurance coverage starting in 2013.
  4. Ends blanket exemption for insurers from anti-trust laws.
  5. Provides federal financial help for lower and middle income consumers so they can obtain coverage.
  6. Bars insurers from denying or limiting coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
  7. Bars insurers from imposing lifetime limits on coverage.
  8. Expands Medicaid coverage to more people.
  9. Imposes a 5.4 percent surcharge on adjusted gross incomes of more than $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for joint filers.
  10. Imposes penalties on people and businesses who fail to comply with the new law.

Point #10 is the killer for me. I can hardly afford another source of outflow for my limited funds right now, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I also wonder how medical professionals will be effected by all this pomp and circumstance from a heavy handed intrusion into their field. Will this cause a massive rush on healthcare providers? Will healthcare providers be able to stay afloat both financially and physically?

No matter how vigilant the news media is on keeping tabs on the government’s shenanigans, much goes on behind the scenes, out of the public’s eye. Keep that in mind as you either celebrate or mourn the passage of the healthcare reform bill.

Serial Killer Profile Like Dahmer

. Saturday, November 7


If you’ve watched enough TV, you have a basic understanding of how various agencies ‘profile’ criminals. Shows like the various flavors of CSI, Criminal Minds and even Medium all enhance story lines with a bit of psychology now and then.

That’s the sort of thing you need to come to terms with such heinous, horrendous crimes that Anthony Sowell is accused of.

He lived in a relatively busy neighborhood in the best home on the block. An empty, rundown house on one side and a meat processing plant on the other, Sowell was able to rest assured that any wayward stench in the area was immediately assumed to be coming from the meat processing plant.

That’s what has stumped Robert Keppel, a national serial-killer expert who investigated Ted Bundy in Washington state and who is now looking into Sowell’s case. He believes that psychopaths usually maintain such tight control over their lives and environment that it is rare for killers like Dahmer – and now Sowell – to “hunt” out of their homes. To do so is brazen, risky and not within the same category of a psychopath.

Still holes remain in the story and the investigation itself. Police have now identified the fourth victim, found a total of ten bodies, but have only charged Sowell with five counts of murder.

One victim that escaped when Sowell left to go to the corner store said that everything was fine until Sowell suddenly jumped up and attempted to strangle her. That sudden uncontrolled burst is more suggestive of schizophrenia than psychopath, which is characterized by a total lack of conscience, a possible high level of awareness to detail and above average intelligence. What is pertinent is that any abnormal diagnosis can only come with an extensive amount of time with the subject; time that is spent looking for patterns in thought and behavior.

The photo of Sowell shows that keen awareness and attention. In a courtroom situation, that is no indication of anything more than his focus. His body language is that of attentive listening. I would have to say that Sowell himself is more likely to pick up on the patterns of a psychopath than, say, his lawyer.

New Grocery Sacks Only With Paper

. Tuesday, November 3


With the shifts in the economy, one local grocery store closed, was bought and reopened again last week under a new name. I liked the old store, so I stopped in Friday to see what the new store was about.

To my relief, things were shelved in the same place as the old store. I found what I was looking for with no problem. The biggest differences were all new faces, new floor tile and new shopping carts.

What surprised me, however, is that this new grocery uses only paper bags to sack up your groceries for you. The familiar - and missed – paper bag smell drifted to my nose as I carried all my purchases in one bag cradled in the crook of my elbow. Ah, the nostalgia. There are other uses for paper grocery bags too, like cutting them up for school book covers.

And I was stunned. Wasn’t the point of switching to plastic to save the trees? Trees are still a limited and dying resource! Are those bags made with recycled paper? I looked all over the bag when I got home, and found nothing stamped on the bag whatsoever. No recycle symbol.

Of course, there’s a large downside to using plastic as shopping bags too. All they do is fill landfills with something that takes years and years to decompose. Other uses? Not many, though I have lined garbage pails with them. But, that looks tacky.

So now, the old argument resumes: Paper or plastic?

Have you seen any stores using paper bags again? A penny for your thoughts!

Government Doubts Elected Officials’ Honesty

. Monday, November 2


Jake Tapper, ABC’s Senior White House Correspondent, dug into the government’s reports and statistics about the validity of the effectiveness of the $159 billion distributed as of Sept 30.

Faulty numbers dominate, Tapper concluded, with each job saved or created with economic recovery funds costing the tax payer $160,000 each.

Tapper said that Ed DeSeve, senior advisor to the president for Recovery Act implementation, has been “scrubbing” the numbers so much that his “fingers are worn to a nub.”

"What we have to do is expect that our public officials are honest," DeSeve said. "I know that's a high bar." His current estimate is that each saved or created job costs the taxpayers $92,000 instead while accusing Tapper of “calculator abuse.”

Either way, you can bet that the people working in a “saved” or Recovery Act “created” job aren’t making anywhere near $92,000 per year. So, where is all that money really going? That’s what I want to know.

Inbox: Cold vs H1N1 Symptoms

. Sunday, November 1

H1N1 flu is upon us and we need to be on top of information regarding it. Here is a comparison of normal cold symptoms vs H1N1 flue that someone forwarded to me.

The Difference between Cold and H1N1 Flu Symptoms

H1N1 Flu
Fever is rare with a cold.
Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.
A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.
A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).
Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.
Stuffy Nose
Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.
Chills are uncommon with a cold.
60% of people who have the flu experience chills.
Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.
Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
Sneezing is not common with the flu.
Sudden Symptoms
Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.
A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.
Sore Throat
Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.
Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.
Chest Discomfort
Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

No Tight Pants Per Sharia Law



I have often mused about women’s fashion, not being a clothes horse myself, and it’s purpose. Well duh, it’s all about attracting men more than it is about practical comfort suited to the tasks at hand. Even a 1950’s apron tended to emphasize a woman’s shapely curves, right? I mean, only a heavy parka or a mumu functions to hide the shape of the body underneath.

But now, a province in Indonesia called Aceh that is under full Sharia law not only allows adulterers to be stoned to death, but is now going to force women to wear Muslim dress by outlawing pants.

A woman can wear pants if she chooses, but the pants must be covered with an ankle-length skirt. If a shirt is tucked into her pants, why that’s just wrong, even if a headscarf is worn. The point is to completely hide the shape of her body.

Offenders will see their non-sharia-compliant attire cut up, starting in December. I wonder, while the illegal clothing is shredded, just what will the woman be wearing then?

I propose an alternative: If Islamic men can’t control their libido, why not punish them by forcing them to wear a scarf tied over their eyes instead? Why punish women for men’s shortcomings?